A DECISION by the Heritage Council to knock back the Darling Range Hotel for state heritage listing has not deterred residents who say they are determined to get their fight to save the venue back before the council via a scheme amendment next month.
The proposed amendment number 122, to the City of Swan’s local planning scheme, will rezone various lots in Bellevue from ‘highway service’ and ‘residential’ to ‘general commercial’ in accordance with the Bellevue East Land Use Study (BELUS).
Residents found out this week their bid to have the hotel heritage listed was unsuccessful and the reasons given by the Heritage Council have raised the eyebrows of East Metropolitan MLC and historian Bill Leadbetter who questioned the rationale.
State Heritage Office executive director Graeme Gammie said the Heritage Council’s Register Committee met on Friday, April 28 to consider additional information in support of a nomination for the tavern to be assessed for inclusion in the State Register.
He said the committee had decided in November last year that the place did not warrant assessment but following a high level of community interest in the nomination it was referred to the full Heritage Council.
Mr Gammie said the Heritage Council reviewed the extra information from the community, particularly in relation to the tavern being frequented by servicemen.
“The Heritage Council concluded that, although the hotel may have been a popular venue for soldiers, this was not unique to the Darling Range Tavern and other places already in the State Register have stronger links to the history of the Anzacs in WA,” he said.
“Furthermore, Federation era hotels constructed between 1890 and 1915 are already well represented in the State Register, with 37 metropolitan and 51 regional hotels State Heritage listed.
“In light of this information, the Heritage Council resolved that the Darling Range Tavern is unlikely to cross the threshold for entry in the State Register of Heritage Places and therefore does not warrant full assessment.”
Mr Gammie said whilst the hotel may have local significance, only places of State significance were included in the State Register of Heritage Places.
Dr Leadbetter, who is also a historian, said this was not the end of the matter and he would now pursue this with Heritage Minister David Templeman.
He said the Heritage Council did not make its decision based on whether the place met criteria set out in the Act, but on a kind of quota system.
“The council did not deny its historical significance, but argued there were other places of the same or more significance that were already on the register.
“This is, frankly, a silly argument – it’s like knocking back the Parthenon because there are lots of other ancient temples like it in Greece.”
Dr Leadbetter said the council seemed to have overlooked the unique position of the hotel as the closest pub to the Blackboy Hill training camp.
“During WWI over 32,000 WA soldiers trained at that camp including WA’s Anzacs,” he said.
“I don’t know how much more important it could be.
“I find it particularly disappointing the council has exercised what is, in effect, an historical judgment since there are no actual historians on the council.”
Bellevue Residents and Ratepayers Association (BRRA) secretary Dianne Arvino said the Heritage Council’s decision was disappointing but the campaign to save the Darling Range Hotel and the integrity of the BELUS would continue.
She said the city’s failure to put the hotel on its local inventory sooner was always going to hamper the success of the hotel being put on the State Register.
“The City of Swan was notified of its heritage significance in the BELUS policy adopted by council in 2013.”
City chief executive officer Mike Foley said the Darling Range Hotel was being assessed by a heritage consultant who has been engaged by the city to review its Heritage List and Local Government Inventory.
He said the review was currently being finalised. The public advertising of the draft Heritage List and Local Government Inventory, including the outcome of this assessment, is scheduled to commence by mid-June.”
By Rashelle Predovnik